UK News

Insights from the UK and beyond

Has the Blair backlash gone too far?



Former Prime Minister Tony Blair must feel like a hunted man. And that’s probably what his vocal critics want. First, he postpones his planned book signing because of possible protests and now a private party planned for the Tate Modern gallery has gone the same way.

The obvious cause of the anger prompted by Blair can be summed up by one word: “Iraq”.

Yet, he led Labour to a historic three successive election victories — the last one in 2005 coming when the conflict in Iraq had already turned bloody.

It’s all a far cry from 1997 when Blair was hailed as a bright new star who would guide Britain out of the grey years of the Major era. And maybe that’s the rub — so many put their faith and trust in him, that the disenchantment runs deeper than normal. Perhaps he could compare notes on the subject with President Obama next time he is in Washington.

A gentle start to the Iraq inquiry


iraq3After years of demands from anti-war campaigners, opposition politicians and relatives of dead soldiers, the official inquiry into the Iraq War finally began on Tuesday.

In a small, dark, unremarkable, windowless room, a government-appointed panel began its examination of the most controversial British foreign policy decision of recent decades.

Will the Chilcot Iraq inquiry achieve anything?


AFGHANISTAN-BRITAIN/OPERATIONSFew investigations can have begun with lower expectations than the Chilcot inquiry into Britain’s involvement in the Iraq war.

Critics have been withering:

– the Chairman Sir John Chilcot, a former Whitehall mandarin, has strong links to the establishment and is unlikely to rock the boat, they say.

Is powerful Mandy talking up the euro?


When Prime Minister Gordon Brown reshuffled his cabinet last week, fending off a challenge to his authority, a significant outcome was the creation of one of the most powerful ministerial jobs Britain has seen in years.


Peter Mandelson, a former European commissioner who has twice served in British governments in the past and twice been forced to resign, was reconfirmed as secretary of state for business, but also given greatly expanded authorities that make him a powerful if unofficial number two to Brown.

Brown fights fires at home while on U.S. trip


brown.jpgFor Gordon Brown on his U.S. trip it has been a case of when the cat is away the mice will play. While Brown was at the White House working to shore up the “special relationship” with President George W. Bush, rebellion broke out in Labour ranks at home.

First, Labour peer Lord Desai launched an extraordinary attack on Brown, telling the Evening Standard: “Gordon Brown was put on earth to remind people how good Tony Blair was.”

from Ask...:

“We should talk with al Qaeda”, ex-Blair aide says

powell.jpgThe government should look at ways of opening communication channels with groups like al Qaeda and the Taliban if it wants a long-term political solution as well as a security solution, a former senior aide to Tony Blair says.

Jonathan Powell, who served as Blair's chief of staff between 1995 and 2007, told the Guardian newspaper that such a policy helped secure a peace deal in Northern Ireland.